Monday, August 13, 2007

Irresponsible Criticism

Both Ross Douthat and Brendan Nyhan attempt to chuck cold water on this interesting Village Voice article regarding Rudolph Giuliani and the Sept. 11 mythology that he has built around himself.

They perform this critique under the guise of being very reasonable centrists who just happen to have doubts about a rabid leftist fringe publication (that happens to win Pulitzer Prizes for reporting). Says Douthat:

No doubt such a story would draw the most blood if it appeared in NR, but really, it would draw more blood, or at least attract more right-wing attention, if it appeared almost anywhere other than the Village Voice. I'm no great Rudy booster, but I'm much, much more likely to take this kind of story with a grain of salt because it appears in an extremely left-wing alternative weekly (but I repeat myself) that did nothing but bash Hizzoner, sometimes fairly but usually not, throughout his mayoralty. Forget NR: There's a whole world of more mainstream liberal publications that would lend far more credibility to a story like this, and that would be happy, I would imagine, to run a devastating takedown of Giuliani's "hero of 9/11" reputation. And so fairly or not, the fact that it didn't run in the Times Magazine or Time or Newsweek or The New Republic or Vanity Fair or Esquire or almost anywhere else makes me automatically inclined to approach it with more skepticism that it may deserve.

That's quite a statement, considering that A) Douthat and Nyhan offer no substantive criticism that would undermine the article, and B) Douthat offers no evidence whatsoever to back his assertion that the Voice "did nothing but bash Hizzoner, sometimes fairly but usually not."

Look, if you want to smear a reporter and a publication, then give me some evidence to work with. Tell me where the reporting was deficient. Explain to me how The Voice and Barrett may have shaded the truth or omitted crucial evidence or not provided proper context. But don't parade around as if you are the Arbiters of Everything when you can't back it up.

PS. I don't know anyone at The Voice, but I do read the publication from time to time.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 1:45 PM

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